The archetypal cabin in the woods is all about communing with nature but for architects it’s also a chance to explore the essence of what a home is and what it should offer its occupants. Freed from the constraints and demands of urban living, a cabin epitomizes a home stripped down to its core nature, the provision of shelter. “A45”, a cabin prototype constructed in upstate New York for home company klein, tackles these considerations by combining the tenets of Scandinavian design, simplicity, minimalism and functionality, with a quest for authenticity and a push for sustainability.
Designed by Copenhagen, New York and London based architectural collective BIG - Bjarke Ingels Group, the tiny house is fully customizable inside and out and can be built to the home-owner’s specifications within 4 to 6 months in any location. The starting point for A45’s design is the traditional A-frame cabin whose pitched roof and angles walls enable easy rain run-off and simplify the construction process. In order to maximize the useable floor space, the architects have retained the square floor-plan while twisting the roof by 45 degrees. The result of this geometrical alchemy is a crystal-like, prismatic volume, painted black, which from certain angles looks like a cube while from others like a spire. It also means that the interior space soars to almost four metres in height.
The interior décor is a paradigm of Nordic minimalism that embodies the concept of “hygge”, a Danish term defined by Oxford Dictionaries as the “quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being”. A palette of natural materials and hues sets the tone: solid pine for the exposed timber frame, Douglas Fir for the floorboards, and natural cork for the walls reference the beauty of the forest setting outside while establishing an ambience of comfort and elegance.
The compact interiors of 17 square metres include a living-dining area complete with an elegant wood-burning stove by Morsøe, a small kitchen designed by Københavns Møbelsnedkeri, a cedar-lined bathroom with fittings by VOLA, and a lofted space. The Scandinavian aesthetic of the cabin’s design is complemented by an eclectic selection of handcrafted Nordic furniture from designers such as Carl Hansen and Soren Rose Studio whose bed is fitted with Kvadrat fabric.
Instead of constructing foundations, which would require the use of heavy machinery, the house sits on four short concrete piers for optimal support, purpose-built for any terrain. This is just one aspect of the house’s minimal environmental impact and ease of construction which is based on assembling the prefabricated modules on site, a process that also ensures a minimal time frame. Meanwhile all materials are 100% recyclable, including the timber frame, wall modules, the subfloor and the triangular floor-to-ceiling window. As importantly, the house is completely powered by solar panels which means it can be placed practically everywhere.
The A45 model is the first in a series of compact prefabricated homes by well-known architects that Klein is developing in collaboration with leading architects for all those who dream of being able to escape the hustle and bustle of city life once in a while for the peacefulness of nature, and judging from the inventiveness and sophistication of BIG’s design, we can’t wait to see the complete line up.